Would you bet your paycheck on a weather forecast?

UN climate forecasts are consistently high … consistently wrong … and used to drive policy

By Dr. Tim Ball and Tom Harris

Dr. Thomas Sowell, Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, summarized the problem the world faces with climate change policy:  

“Would you bet your paycheck on the weather forecast for tomorrow? If not, then why should this country bet billions on global warming predictions that have even less foundation?”

Sowell is right to be skeptical. Meteorologists can’t forecast the weather much beyond 48 hours, as the degree of accuracy diminishes rapidly with every additional day. Yet the same weather agencies, often using the same computer models, since 1990 have said with almost absolute certainty that their 50- and 100-year forecasts are correct. They maintain this illusion today, even though all their long-term forecasts have been wrong.

Moreover, it’s not just your paycheck that you would be putting at risk. It’s reliable, affordable energy for everything you do, and for those you rely on for goods and services. It’s your living standards and future – and your children’s future.

It’s the health and wellbeing of every person in every modern, industrialized nation on earth – and of every person in poor developing countries who dreams of having living standards and opportunities approaching those we are blessed with.

The global warming deception worked because most people don’t know the difference between weather, climate, and meteorology. This confusion arose partly because of the historical development of each.

Climate came first, with the word originating from the Greek word for inclination. The ancient Greeks realized that the climate of a region, and how it changed through the year, was primarily determined by the angle of the Sun’s rays. Beyond that, they used evidence from experience and historical patterns.

Aristotle’s student and philosophical successor Theophrastus (371–287 BC) wrote the book Meteorological Phenomena, sometimes called the Book of Signs. Theophrastus was not referring to astrological signs, but weather signs such as the red sky observation that is neatly summed up by the old, and generally correct, adage: “Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning. Red sky at night, sailors’ delight.”

The Greeks developed short-term forecasts based on observations made over hundreds of years. This use of long-term signs to try and determine short-term weather pervades and guides all communities because of its impact on their food supply. This became more important when humans switched from hunter-gatherer to sedentary agricultural subsistence.

Some simple definitions are important for the public to understand.

Weather is the total of the atmospheric conditions at any given moment. It includes thousands of inputs from cosmic radiation from deep space, heating energy from the bottom of the oceans and everything in between.

Climate is the average weather conditions, and how they change, at a given location, over an extended period of time. While one can describe “daily climate,” obtained by averaging the 24-hourly readings or averaging the minimum and maximum readings in a 24-hour period, much longer periods are normally studied by climatologists. The choice of the beginning and end point of climate studies determines the overall trend. By “cherry picking” this time interval, you can demonstrate virtually any trend you want.

For example, the general temperature trend of the last 140 years was warming, but the trend of the last 1,000 years was cooling. That is why the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) tried to rewrite the historical temperature record over the past millennium to eliminate the Medieval Warm Period. It finally had to restore the Warm Period, which existed across Europe and Asia, and is recorded in multiple Chinese texts from that era.

Similarly, you can study climates of various regions, although forecasting regional climate is fraught with uncertainties. Dr. Tim Palmer, leading climate modeler at the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, summed the situation up well in a 2008  New Scientist magazine article:

“I don’t want to undermine the IPCC, but the forecasts, especially for regional climate change, are immensely uncertain.”

Meteorology is the study of the physics of the atmosphere and is the term people associate most with weather forecasting. Meteorologists maintain that their physics is correct. Then why are their forecasts so often wrong? The answer is inferred in mathematician and philosopher A. N. Whitehead’s comment that:

“There is no more common error than to assume that, because prolonged and accurate mathematical calculations have been made, the application of the result to some fact of nature is absolutely certain.”

The IPCC defends its long-term climate forecasts by maintaining that a weather forecast is different from a climate forecast. But climate is an average of the weather, and one cannot generate accurate results by averaging inaccurate ones.

Thus, starting in 1990, the IPCC stopped making forecasts – because they were never right. Instead they began publishing a range of “projections.” Yet, they too were hopelessly at odds with what actually happened in the real world. Worse, the news media, climate activists, politicians, and regulators treat the “projections” as predictions, or forecasts, for purposes of stirring up public anxiety and trying to justify draconian anti-fossil-fuel policies.

Indeed, these failed projections underlay the extreme, economically damaging, and completely unnecessary policy prescriptions that were presented earlier this month at the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany.

So, the answer to Sowell’s question is clear. No country – certainly not successful, developed nations like the United States or Canada – should bet a nickel of taxpayers’ money on the UN’s failed global warming predictions.

Poor, struggling, developing countries are even more strongly advised to ignore UN predictions and energy policy prescriptions – unless they want to be mired in poverty and misery for another century.

————

Dr. Tim Ball is an environmental consultant and former climatology professor at the University of Winnipeg in Manitoba. Tom Harris is executive director of the Ottawa, Canada-based International Climate Science Coalition.

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About the Author: CFACT

CFACT defends the environment and human welfare through facts, news, and analysis.

  • pkwz

    I say let the Global Warming Cult lobby gamble all the money in the world–the world of Monopoly, that is. Let them gather at their luxury resorts and play the scam game all they want. When they only have Monopoly dollars, they’ll only be heroes in their own little heads.

    • cshorey

      I’ll gladly extend my bet to Tim Ball to you as well. Another $100,000 bet to you that by 2035 the temperature anomalies will be measured to be higher than this and next year. You guys are really going to help my retirement funds.

  • Anon Anon

    The weather fo tomorrow changes a least 4 times a day. Tempatures are within reason, but rain will vary from to 100%

  • Ian5

    Noting that Tom Harris has no climate science credentials whatsoever. Hasn’t published any climate science. None. Tim Ball hasn’t published any peer-reviewed science in at least 25 years.

    The real question arising from this article is why would we place our bets on the intentionallyy misleading opinions of these two disinformation professionals?

    • socalpa

      Why didn’t you mention Tim Balls qualifications ? Retirement doesn’t mean he is not actively following the science . What was “misleading” ?
      .
      Speaking of “misleading” ..
      Why should anyone agree to pay Trillions on the basis of speculations out to 2100 AD by some academics ? Because absent a working Time Machine, that is all they really are .
      .
      Trillions today for better weather (maybe) in 2100 AD ?
      .
      Sounds like a Bernie Madoff “investment , and since the payers will all be dead by 2100AD , no lawsuits or consequences for the payees !
      .
      I went from considering AGW a typical academic spat , to Fraud .

      • Ian5

        Ball has published a total of 4 or 5 peer-reviewed articles on climate science, the last one in the late 1980s. He has no credibility whatsoever in current climate science circles. Why not tell us why you defend his silly extreme views.

        • socalpa

          Why don’t you explain what disqualifies his opinions on the science ? What is “extreme” ?
          .
          Were the claims an Arctic summer ice free by 2013/14/15/16/17 “extreme” ? They were headlined ,and shown utterly false . Do you care to know who made those predictions ?
          .
          How about the claims of Antarctica raising sea level by feet to meters by 2050 -2100 ,are they extreme ? NASA found the opposite in 2015 ,Antarctica reducing SLR ,and expected to for decades .
          .
          Or the claim that marine phytoplankton had declined by 40% since 1950 due to global warming and ocean “acidification” headlined globally , and utterly refuted by observations .
          .
          Or claims of global food disruptions ? Record harvests . More and stronger tropical cyclones , no evidence detected ,says NOAA
          .
          As to climate science “circles” ,you must mean those “circling the wagons” against the onslaught of reality . .

          • Ian5

            Arctic sea ice: Inform yourself:
            “Year-round reductions in Arctic sea ice are projected for all RCP
            scenarios. The subset of models that most closely reproduce the observations project that a nearly ice-free Arctic Ocean3224in September is likely for RCP8.5 before mid-century (medium confidence)”
            http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/
            http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/syr/SYR_AR5_FINAL_full_wcover.pdf

            • socalpa

              Inform yourself .
              .
              Were the claims of a likely ice free Arctic summer by 2013/14/15/16/17 published by several scientific groups “extreme” ?

              • Ian5

                Cherry picking to fit your narrative. If you are interested in a current assessment and projections of Arctic sea ice conditions, refer to the upthread links I provided, Getting back to the co-authors of the article, neither has published any science on the topic.

                • socalpa

                  So , you believe one must be published in a scientific specialty in order to have an informed opinion on the subject ?
                  Were the authors and others that headlined the studies by the JPL and NAVY glaciology teams not “cherry picking” to fit a narrative ?
                  .
                  If they knew the assessment was for ice free Arctic summers late in 21st century , were they “shameful and dishonest misinformation professionals” ?

                  • cshorey

                    Ian is right, Tim Ball has discredited himself with his crappy work on climate science in his later days. No credible scientists listen to him on climate. Let’s see how he does with the bet I offered him above.

                    • socalpa

                      You are entitled to your opinion ,and so is Ian5. You can make all the bets, or offer to that you like .
                      .
                      Right now, I am interested in answers to the questions I raised with Ian5 .
                      .
                      Are you game ,betting man ? ;
                      .
                      Were the projections on Arctic summer sea ice extent from 2007 and 2011 by several major science groups “extreme” ?
                      .
                      Were the reporters that headlined these alarming papers “shameful and dishonest misinformation professionals” ?

                    • cshorey

                      Opinions are one thing, peer reviewed science is another. When you ask about the Arctic sea ice, do you mean that it crashed faster than anticipated?
                      Both in 2007
                      http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2007GL029703/abstract
                      And continuing to now
                      https://www.reuters.com/article/us-canada-arctic-research/arctic-sea-ice-may-be-declining-faster-than-expected-study-idUSKBN1CT2JD

                    • socalpa

                      Your deflection is noted ,will be glad to discuss the “peer reviewed science” once you answer the questions you chimed in on. The questions Ian5 ran from .;
                      .
                      The first requires a simple yes or no;

                      Were the projections on Arctic summer sea ice extent from 2007 and 2011 by several major science groups “extreme” ?
                      .
                      The 2nd requires the same;

                      Were the reporters that headlined these alarming papers “shameful and dishonest misinformation professionals” ?

                    • cshorey

                      This is an odd reply. You made a very vague comment about Arctic sea ice, and I asked you for clarification with what is known about the state of predictions and observations, and you have labelled it a deflection. I think you are going to have to make some links to the claims you’re making as they don’t seem based in science. So far you have unfounded assertions.

                    • socalpa

                      Nothing vague , Read again , I never asked Ian5 about current state of predictions ,and you are just evading answering .
                      .
                      Right now, I am interested in answers to the questions I raised with Ian5 .
                      .
                      Are you game ,betting man ? ;
                      .
                      Were the projections on Arctic summer sea ice extent from 2007 and 2011 by several major science groups “extreme” ?
                      .
                      Were the reporters that headlined these alarming papers “shameful and dishonest misinformation professionals” ?

                      Here are the links to the headlined ,and falsified predictions ;

                      http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7139797.stm

                      https://www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight/2013/dec/09/us-navy-arctic-sea-ice-2016-melt

                    • cshorey

                      Yeah, you were definitely vague. Now that you’ve put out your links we can say a few things. The first paper was a single lone scientist who was going against the common knowledge as exemplified by this quote from your cited article,

                      ‘”My claim is that the global climate models underestimate the amount of heat delivered to the sea ice by oceanic advection,” Professor Maslowski said.’

                      So if you. are using this to say “CLIMATE SCIENCE PREDICTED NO ICE BY 2013!” Then it is you who don’t know how to read . . . your own linked articles. One contradictory individual should not get you so wet.

                      As for the second article you posted, right out of the first paragraph,

                      “An ongoing US Department of Energy-backed research project led by a US Navy scientist predicts that the Arctic could lose its summer sea ice cover as early as 2016 – 84 years ahead of conventional model projections.”

                      So this article says “as early as” and you read it as “definitely by”? And did you miss the 84 years before the conventional projections?

                      Wow, I know you won’t change your mind or see things differently because I’ve met hundreds like you, but wow. Read your articles with a little less bias next time. The articles I referenced said the sea ice has reduced faster than originally predicted, and this surprising loss led to knew attempts at understanding by Dr. Maslowski and the Navy. Sometimes climate change will be worse than we thought because that’s how uncertainties work. They don’t al fall in your favor by magic.

                    • socalpa

                      I have met hundreds like you . Quite willing to lie and misrepresent the science .Your post confirmed the studies were “extreme” ,you ignoramus !
                      .
                      It was not a “lone scientist”, and the headline read ;
                      .
                      Arctic summers ice-free ‘by 2013’

                      By Jonathan Amos
                      Science reporter, BBC News, San Francisco
                      .
                      And included ;

                      “Professor Maslowski’s GROUP *, which includes co-workers at Nasa and the Institute of Oceanology, Polish Academy of Sciences (PAS), is well known for producing modelled dates that are in advance of other teams.”

                      *emphasis mine, and I will show the list of other science groups claiming Arctic summers ice by 2015/16 .
                      .
                      The question was ;

                      Were the projections on Arctic summer sea ice extent from 2007 and 2011 by several major science groups “extreme” ?
                      .
                      You seem to have answered in the affirmative .. Yes ?
                      .
                      Next question was;
                      .
                      Were the reporters that headlined these alarming papers “shameful and dishonest misinformation professionals” ?

                    • cshorey

                      So glad to meet you then. What did I lie about? I just quoted the articles you posted. Oh, and I posted a couple articles of my own to you and you ignored them. They both said that the sea ice has reduced faster than the models had originally predicted. I know you want to call this a lie, but I did give you references. Empty rhetoric does not an argument make socalpa. I will say this about models in general: all models are wrong, but some are useful. In some cases models help us see where we need better understanding. The fact that I can point to the majority of models not predicting this fast of a decline, and you can point out a few that say that it might have started by now and it hasn’t, totally ignores the fact that either way, sea ice is diminishing and that is consistent with accumulating heat in the Earth’s climate system. Models also help us see where we may not understand as much, in this case the ocean currents and their heat transport. But you’ve turned this to a simple narrative where the few who predicted too early are the standard bearers for all of climate science, and that if this one thing can have holes poked in it, then somehow you think the whole edifice will come down. You’re a clever debater, but the facts and importance are lost in your narrative.

                    • socalpa

                      You ask;

                      “What did I lie about ? ”
                      .
                      Well , this for starters , you wrote ;

                      “The first paper was a single lone scientist who was going against the common knowledge as exemplified by this quote from your cited article,”.
                      .
                      The article you cited from says ;

                      “Professor Maslowski’s group, which includes co-workers at Nasa and the Institute of Oceanology, Polish Academy of Sciences (PAS), is well known for producing modelled dates that are in advance of other teams”.
                      .
                      Not ..”lone scientist”. group of scientists .

                      The questions you are continuing to evade are
                      .
                      Were the projections on Arctic summer sea ice extent from 2007 and 2011 by several major science groups “extreme” ?;
                      .
                      And ;
                      .
                      Were the reporters that headlined these alarming papers “shameful and dishonest misinformation professionals” ?
                      .
                      Why won’t you answer ?

                    • cshorey

                      So to you, when Dr. Maslowski said, “My claim is that the global climate models underestimate the amount of heat delivered to the sea ice by oceanic advection,” You think that he means a few outlier models instead of the main bulk of modeled knowledge? Nuts.
                      .
                      So I didn’t lie, and you are full of lies of commission and omission. It is as if when you see a bell curve of the height of people, you just see the two shortest people and think they are representative of the whole group, and then say we can’t know heights at all? Are short people “extreme” to you? How about you stop asking such dumb questions and ask yourself why this matters? The sea ice is still diminishing.
                      .
                      Would you like to look at the plankton data that shows past Arctic sea ice extent together? I’m not sure I really want to continue a discussion with someone clearly offering a bad faith argument who doesn’t process new information. You never did mention the articles I posted in attempting to clarify your vague entry. Let’s see if you can stop the cherry picking biased empty rhetoric and discuss more intelligently.

                    • socalpa

                      You did lie ,got caught ,and now ,you babble incessantly .
                      .
                      The fact is that multiple groups of scientists published papers and predictions of an ice free Arctic summer by 2013/1415/16/17.
                      .
                      These claims were relentlessly headlined and repeated . There was nothing “vague” about them .
                      .
                      Like Ian5 ,you simply refuse to admit they were “extreme” and those that promoted these headlines were dishonest .
                      .
                      I listed other examples above .Feel free to pick another . Pointing out failed Alarmist predictions is not “bad faith” .Pointing out purposeful headlining of “extreme” scientific positions isn’t either .
                      .
                      You just don’t like these examples being pointed out .
                      .
                      Too bad .

                    • cshorey

                      Glad you are so fascinated by two short people in a crowd to a point of not seeing the crowd. Nice try, but you have failed to impress in any way. Your “have you stopped beating your wife” questions are certainly below me to answer, and do make me think very little of you. Thanks for not much of a discussion here. You were proven biased and unable to see a forest past a couple trees.

                    • classicalmusiclover

                      The science-illiterate socalpa thinks he is a big man, even an expert, in his safe space at CFACT, run by an admitted anti-science thug.

                • socalpa

                  Just as I expected …. silence .

            • socalpa

              Well ?
              .
              Were the projections on Arctic summer sea ice extent from 2007 and 2011 by several major science groups “extreme” ?
              .
              Were the reporters that headlined these alarming papers “shameful and dishonest misinformation professionals” ?
              .
              Speak up !

          • Ian5

            Extreme as in Ball’s position is diametrically opposed to the position of every American and international scientific academy. Extreme is when he associates himself with the extremely dishonest and shameful disinformation professionals at heartland.

            • socalpa

              Did you ever consider what the phrase unfounded assertions means ?
              .
              You really should ,because you seem to make a habit of it .

  • cshorey

    Tim Ball, I will bet you $100,000 that by 2035 the world will be warmer than it is this year and next year. Shall we work up the legal papers to make it binding?